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Elijah sends notice to Ahab of his coming, ver. 1 - 16.
His interview with Ahab, ver. 17 - 19.
His interview with all Israel upon mount Carmel, ver. 21 - 39.
He slays the prophets of Baal, ver. 40.
Obtains rain, and runs before Ahab to Jezreel, ver. 41 - 46.
1: The third year - Either,
Go to Ahab - To acquaint him with the cause of this judgment, and to
advise him to remove it, and upon that condition to promise him rain.
Will send - According to thy word and prayer, which thou shalt make for
it. Thus God takes care to maintain the honour of his prophet, and in
judgment remembers mercy to Israel, for the sake of the holy seed yet
left among them, who suffered in this common calamity.
- From the time when he went to hide himself by the brook Cherith;
six months before which time the famine might begin. And so this
being towards the end of the third year, it makes up these three
years and six months, (Jam 5:17). Or,
- From the time of his going to Sarepta, which probably was a year
after the famine begun; So this might be in the middle of the third
year, which also makes up the three years and six months.
2: Elijah went - Wherein he shews a strong faith, and resolute
obedience, and invincible courage, that he durst at God's command
run into the mouth of this raging lion.
3: Obadiah - Being valued by Ahab for his great prudence and
fidelity, and therefore indulged as to the worship of the calves and
Baal. But how could he and some other Israelites be said to
fear the Lord, when they did not go up to Jerusalem to worship, as
God had commanded? Although they seem not to be wholly excusable in this
neglect, yet because they worshipped God in spirit and truth, and performed
all moral duties to God and their brethren, and abstained from idolatry,
being kept from Jerusalem by violence, God bares with their infirmity
4: Prophets - This name is not only given to such as are endowed with
an extraordinary spirit of prophecy, but to such ministers as devoted
themselves to the service of God in preaching, praying, and praising God.
And fed - With the hazard of his own life, and against the king's command;
as wisely considering, that no command of an earthly prince could over - rule
the command of the king of kings. Bread and water - With meat and drink.
See how wonderfully God raises up friends for his ministers and people where
one would least expect them!
7: And fell - By this profound reverence, shewing his great respect
and love to him.
8: Thy lord - Ahab: whom, though a very wicked man, he owns for
Obadiah's Lord and king; thereby instructing us, that the wickedness
of kings doth not exempt their subjects from obedience to their lawful
9: He said - Wherein have I offended God, and thee, that thou
shouldest expose me to certain ruin.
10: No nation - Near his own, where he could in reason think that
Elijah had hid himself. It does not appear, that Ahab sought him,
in order to put him to death: but rather in hopes of prevailing upon him,
to pray for the removal of the drought.
12: Carry thee - Such transportations of the prophets having
doubtless been usual before this time, as they were after it.
Slay me - Either as one that hath deluded him with vain hopes: or,
because I did not seize upon thee, and bring thee to him.
But I, &c. - He speaks not these words, in a way of boasting; but that
he might move the prophet to spare him, and not put him upon that
17: Ahab said - Have I at last met with thee, O thou disturber of
my kingdom, the author of this famine, and all our calamities?
18: He answered - These calamities are not to be imputed to me, but
thine and thy father's wickedness. He answered him boldly, because he spoke
in God's name, and for his honour and service. Ye - All of you have
forsaken the Lord, and thou in particular, hast followed Baalim.
19: Send - Messengers, that this controversy may be decided, what is
the cause of these heavy judgments. All Israel - By their heads, or
representatives, that they may be witnesses of all our transactions.
Carmel - Not that Carmel, in Judah, but another in Issachar by
the midland sea, which he chose as a convenient place being not far from the
center of his kingdom, to which all the tribes might conveniently resort,
and at some distance from Samaria, that Jezebel might not hinder.
Prophets of Baal - Who were dispersed in all the parts of the kingdom.
Of the groves - Who attended upon those Baal's or idols that were
worshipped in the groves, which were near the royal city, and much
frequented by the king and the queen.
20: Ahab sent - He complied with Elijah's motion; because the
urgency of the present distress made him willing to try all means to
remove it; from a curiosity of seeing some extraordinary events; and
principally, because God inclined his heart.
21: And said - Why do you walk so lamely and unevenly, being so
unsteady in your opinions and practices, and doubting whether it is
better to worship God or Baal? If the Lord - Whom you pretend to
worship. Follow - Worship him, and him only, and that in such place
and manner as he hath commanded you. If Baal - If Baal can prove
himself to be the true God. Answered not - Being convinced of the
reasonableness of his proposition.
22: I only - Here present, to own the cause of God. As far the other
prophets of the Lord, many of them were slain, others banished, or hid
23: Let then, &c. - To put this controversy to a short issue.
24: By Fire - That shall consume the sacrifice by fire sent from
heaven; which the people knew the true God used to do. It was a great
condescension in God, that he would permit Baal to be a competitor with
him. But thus God would have every mouth to be stopped, and all flesh
become silent before him. And Elijah doubtless had a special commission
from God, or he durst not have put it to this issue. But the case was
extraordinary, and the judgment upon it would be of use not only then, but
in all ages. Elijah does not say, The God that answers by water, tho'
that was the thing the country needed, but that answers by fire, let him
be God; because the atonement was to be made, before the judgment could
be removed. The God therefore that has power to pardon sin, and to signify
that by consuming the sin - offering, must needs be the God that can relieve
us against the calamity.
25: Dress it first - And I am willing to give you the precedency.
This he did, because if he had first offered, and God had answered by fire,
Baal's priests would have desisted from making the trial on their part;
and because the disappointment of the priests of Baal, of which he was
well assured, would prepare the way for the people's attention to his words,
and cause them to entertain his success with more affection; and this coming
last would leave the greater impression upon their hearts. And this they
accepted, because they might think, that if Baal answered them first,
which they presumed he would, the people would be so confirmed and
heightened in their opinion of Baal, that they might murder Elijah
before he came to his experiment.
26: Dressed - Cut it in pieces, and laid the parts upon the wood.
From morning - From the time of the morning sacrifice; which advantage
Elijah suffered them to take. They leapt upon - Or, beside the
altar: or, before it. They used some superstitious and disorderly
gestures, either pretending to be acted by the spirit of their god, and to
be in a kind of religious extasy; or, in way of devotion to their god.
27: Mocked them - Derided them and their gods, which had now proved
themselves to be ridiculous and contemptible things.
28: Cut themselves - Mingling their own blood with their sacrifices;
as knowing by experience, that nothing was more acceptable to their Baal
(who was indeed the devil) than human blood; and hoping thereby to move
their god to help them. And this indeed was the practice of divers Heathens
in the worship of their false gods.
29: Prophesied - That is, prayed to, and worshipped their god.
30: The altar - This had been built by some of their ancestors for
the offering of sacrifice to the God of Israel, which was frequently
done in high places. Broken down - By some of the Baalites, out of
their enmity to the true God, whose temple, because they could not reach,
they shewed their malignity in destroying his altars.
31: Twelve stones - This he did, to renew the covenant between God
and all the tribes, as Moses did, (Ex 24:4), to shew, that he
prayed and acted in the name, and for the service of the God of all the
Patriarchs, and of all the tribes of Israel, and for their good:
and, to teach the people, that though the tribes were divided as to their
civil government, they ought all to be united in the worship of the same
God. Israel - Jacob was graciously answered by God when he prayed to
him, and was honoured with the glorious title of Israel, which noted
his prevalency with God and men. And I, calling upon the same God, doubt
not of a like gracious answer; and if ever you mean to have your prayers
granted, you must seek to the God of Jacob.
33: With water - This they could quickly fetch, either from the river
Kishon; or, if that was dried up, from the sea; both were at the foot of
the mountain. This he did to make the miracle more glorious, and more
36: The evening sacrifice - This time he chose, that he might unite
his prayers with the prayers of the godly Jews at Jerusalem, who at
that time assembled together to pray. Lord God of, &c. - Hereby he shews
faith in God's ancient covenant, and also reminds the people, of their
relation both to God and to the patriarchs. Done these things - Brought
this famine, gathered the people hither, and done what I have done, or am
doing here; not in compliance with my own passions, but in obedience to thy
37: Hast turned - Let them feel so powerful a change in their hearts,
that they may know it is thy work. Back again - Unto thee, from whom they
38: Consumed - Solomon's altar was consecrated by fire from
heaven; but this was destroyed, because no more to be used.
39: They fell - In acknowledgment of the true God.
He is God - He alone; and Baal is a senseless idol. And they
double the words, to note their abundant satisfaction and assurance
of the truth of their assertion.
40: Elijah said - He takes the opportunity, whilst the peoples
hearts were warm with the fresh sense of this great miracle.
The brook Kishon - That their blood might be poured into that river,
and thence conveyed into the sea, and might not defile the holy land.
Slew them - As these idolatrous priests were manifestly under a sentence
of death, passed upon such by the sovereign Lord of life and death, so
Elijah had authority to execute it, being a prophet, and an extraordinary
minister of God's vengeance. The four hundred prophets of the groves,
it seems, did not attend, and so escaped, which perhaps Ahab rejoiced in.
But it proved, they were reserved to be the instruments of his destruction,
by encouraging him to go up to Ramoth - Gilead.
41: Get up - From the river, where he had been present at the
slaughter of Baal's priests, to thy tent: which probably was pitched
on the side of Carmel. Eat, &c. - Take comfort, and refresh thyself:
for neither the king, nor any of the people could have leisure to eat,
being wholly intent upon the decision of the great controversy.
For there is, &c. - The rain is as certainly coming, as if you heard
the noise which it makes.
42: The top of Carmel - Where he might pour out his prayers unto God;
and whence he might look towards the sea. He had a large prospect of the
sea from hence. The sailors at this day call it cape Carmel.
Between his knees - That is, bowed his head so low, that it touched his
knees; thus abasing himself in the sense of his own meanness, now God had
thus honoured him.
43: Go - While I continue praying. Elijah desired to have timely
notice of the first appearance of rain, that Ahab and the people might
know that it was obtained from Jehovah by the prophet's prayers, and
thereby be confirmed in the true religion.
44: Like a man's hand - Great blessings often rise from small
beginnings, and showers of plenty from a cloud of a span long. Let us
therefore never despise the day of small things, but hope and wait
for greater things from it.
46: The hand, &c. - God gave him more than natural strength, whereby
he was enabled to outrun Ahab's chariot, for so many miles together.
He girded, &c. - That his garments, which were long, might not hinder him.
Ran before Ahab - To shew how ready he was to honour and serve the king,
that by this humble and self - denying carriage, it might appear, what he
had done was not from envy or passion, but only from a just zeal for God's
glory: that by his presence with the king and his courtiers, he might
animate and oblige them to proceed in the reformation of religion: and, to
demonstrate, that he was neither ashamed of, nor afraid for what he had
done, but durst venture himself in the midst of his enemies.